As labor law continues to evolve, numerous changes take place almost annually. Because of this, it is easy for employers to overlook important changes regarding wages, sexual harassment, and other crucial aspects of today’s workplace. Thus, it is smart to periodically review employee manuals, training materials, and other information to ensure full compliance with existing laws and regulations. If you are a New York City employer, now is an excellent time to make sure your company’s policies and practices are fully updated for 2019.
As sexual harassment has come to the forefront in workplaces, employers now have numerous state and city mandates in New York of which they must abide. One of these is new sexual-harassment-prevention training for all employees, which under state law applies to all employers. However, under city law, this training is only required of employers with at least 15 workers. For those employers who fall under state law guidelines, they have until April 2020 to complete their training sessions. For city law employers, the first training session must be completed by October 9, 2019. Along with training sessions, all statewide employers must adopt a written sexual-harassment-prevention policy by October 9, 2019 and distribute a copy to all employees. Also, it is important to note that while the laws overlap, there are specific differences. For example, city law is broader and covers additional topics, including bystander-intervention training.
As of March 18, 2019, all New York City employers with at least four workers will be required to provide lactation rooms for mothers who express breast milk. In addition, a written lactation-accommodation policy must also be available and given to workers upon being hired. The lactation room, which cannot be a bathroom, must be clean, shielded from view, and have an electrical outlet, chair, refrigerator, running water, and surface for personal items. While many employers already provide such areas, others who have not may need to plan accordingly to ensure they meet the specifications. If for any reason this will cause undue hardship on an employer, limited exceptions may be granted.
Perhaps the most complex aspect of current labor law, minimum-wage increases will be going into effect by the end of 2019. As of now, New York City’s minimum-wage for employers with 10 or fewer workers is $13.50/hour, and $15 per hour for all fast-food establishments and companies with 11 or more workers. However, by December 31, 2019, all city businesses must pay their workers at least $15 per hour.
Due to the numerous changes taking place, it is important that employers review their current policies as well as the new laws and regulations taking effect to ensure full compliance. Otherwise, it could be costly. For example, employees have six years to file claims under New York City labor law regarding various matters, and the penalties are often severe for non-compliant employers. Therefore, rather than face these unpleasant and costly situations, be proactive and review all company policies and practices, updating where needed.